Lively and Educational Residency!

Sep 16, 2011 by

Lively and Educational Residency!

Our K-8 students and staff learned the process of producing a shadow puppet show from story board to the performance for an audience in just 10 hours! It was a very positive experience and increased our appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes. And this experience didn’t end with the completion of the residency, classroom teachers are making plans to incorporate shadow puppets as a product assessment. The varied backgrounds and talents shared by the puppeteers was also a positive experience for students. Overall, having PuppeTree in for the week was a great use of our time. Coventry Village School 2010


A 5-6 day residency with a weekend between the third and forth day works best for the PuppeTree. So starting with a Wednesday performance of a professional show the residency would end on the following Tuesday or Wednesday with a show for the parents and a party. An intensive residency must take place when the company of professional puppeteers is available.  Four professional artist/teachers will work simultaneously with your three  groups for two periods a day- after lunch seems to work well. In puppetry the actors must be built and finished before rehearsals. So the weekend break allows time to complete all technical projects before the last days of rehearsal.



Because four artist will be working with the school in the 5-6 day residency the fee is $3000 which include the 2 performances by the professional company all materials, 10 hours of workshops and the final performance by students. Of coarse the Puppetree  is spending  a lot of time organizing and planning outside the workshops.


Regardless of which structure you chose, a performance of the Ugly Duckling by the PuppeTree is included in this residency.  This production was built in partnership with the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences and beside the themes of bulling and self esteem in the original story, we have added the main threats to birds and how to care for injured birds. We believe our unusual and unique version of the story will stimulate your students version of the story. We can even add the professional puppets to your production.


Youngest children will explore the story of the Ugly Duckling using a VIN diagram and compare it to a story they know, we will discuss character, build a sock puppet duckling, learn a song with movement for performance, design and paint scenery, and explore the sounds and movement of animals in the barnyard. In our experience, we have found that a break from the pressure of performance is helpful for this younger age, so on the third day these children enjoy a performance of 14 Carrots and a finger puppet workshop based on that performance. Coloring sheets about the puppet play are always available to this age group. Then we return to the Ugly Duckling project. Therefore, Kindergarten thought second grade will see 3 performances during the residency and build finger puppets, sock puppets, scenery, learn a song and perform with the whole school.


Third grade through eight grades execute the same basic lesson plans but they approach and solve problems in a different way.  One group will storyboard the Ugly Duckling travels away from the farm and the oldest grade group will take the dejected bird to a city where he discovers who he is. These workshops include detailed storyboarding then designing before building puppets. This is the artistic process for most art and especially theatre. Homework is also assigned, for example finding opaque, transparent and translucent materials from home. Working out the engineering and moving shadow puppets is usually a homework activity. Everyone 3rd grade and above learns how to sew a button since that is the basic skill to attach the control rods. The older group is assigned the creation of a rap song one night for the duckling’s adventures in the city. 3-4 graders with learn Danny Kaye’s famous Ugly Duckling song and its history with UNICIF. From the brainstorming and storyboard secessions the PuppeTree will create an original narrative for the performance which one of the professional performers will read.


One group doesn’t know what the other is doing so that everything comes together in the final performance. When not performing, students sit in the audience and watch what others have done to the story. This arrangement eliminates lengthy rehearsals and teaches how to be an attentive and good audience. Teachers relax and get many tips to continue using shadow puppets.


Finally we work toward a performance on the last day of the residency. The PuppeTree will set up lights and our sound system which is very exciting. Parents are invited to attend and bring snacks for a “cast party” after the performance. Everyone goes home with their puppets and the scenery. All materials are furnished by the PuppeTree and you can read the Coventry Village Schools’ script on this website.


If we can answer any questions please just ask.

Ann Legunn, Director

vtpuppet(at)gmail(dot)com 802-785-3031

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